Lyra McKee lay with ‘perfect, small circle’ on temple after shooting, murder trial hears

Witness says he ‘heard a scream’ and saw journalist (29) ‘lying between the front and back wheels of a Land Rover’

Jordan Devine (left) arrives at Laganside Court, Belfast, where he along with Paul McIntyre and Peter Cavanagh are on trial charged with the murder of journalist Lyra McKee. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A community activist who tended to Lyra McKee in the moments after she was shot during a riot in Derry described how he saw a “perfect, small circle” on her temple as she lay still on the ground.

The 29-year-old journalist and author died after being struck in the head by a bullet as she stood on Fanad Drive in Creggan observed rioting on the evening of Friday, April 19th, 2019.

Giving evidence at the murder trial on Tuesday, Emmet Doyle – a former councillor and community activist – said he was aware of a police operation in Creggan that evening and that a house was being searched.

After making his way to Fanad Drive, he noticed a large number of young people on Central Drive throwing bottles and stones at police Land Rovers.


Mr Doyle said before shots being fired, he saw someone at the corner of Fanad Drive and Central Drive raise their right hand and shout “something along the lines of Up the IRA or victory to the IRA, but the IRA was referenced.”

The witness said he saw other people join this man, and that he then saw “a small firearm” being produced.

Mr Doyle told the non-jury hearing that he observed a person firing at the police vehicles.

Mr Doyle recalled hearing “two or three” shots after the initial shot.

“I heard a scream, it would have been to the right of me,” he continued.

“Once I heard the scream I moved up to where Lyra, who I didn’t know, was lying between the front and back wheels of a Land Rover ...

“I remember that her partner Sara was on her knees at that point. I got up beside Sara, I noticed ... in first view I thought it was a child because she was so small and she was not necessarily curled up but not stretched out across the length of the Land Rover.”

When asked when he became aware of the seriousness of the situation, Mr Doyle said: “I thought maybe she had been hit by a stone ... But I remember that Sara has moved Lyra’s hair to one side, she was touching her face. I had tried to do the same and I noticed there was a perfect, small circle in her right temple.”

Mr Doyle said he and another person banged on the door of the Land Rover and when a police officer opened the door, “he immediately understood what the situation was”.

Mr Doyle added “Lyra was placed in the footwell very quickly but carefully” before the Land Rover sped off to the hospital.

Three Derry men have been charged with Lyra’s murder, possessing a firearm and ammunition and other linked offences including rioting and both possessing and throwing petrol bombs.

The trio are Paul McIntyre (56) from Kells Walk, Jordan Devine (23) from Bishop Street and Peter Cavanagh (35) from Mary Street.

It is the crown’s case that whilst none of these three defendants were the gunman who fired the fatal shot that killed Lyra, their actions at the scene “are demonstrative of their involvement in the joint enterprise to possess and fire the weapon with the requisite intent for murder.”

Seven co-accused, also from Derry, are facing charges including rioting and throwing petrol bombs.

All 10 defendants have denied the charges levelled against them.